Where is Your Head at When it Comes to Money?
When it comes to reaching financial stability, nothing is more important than getting your head on straight. Your attitudes about money can make or break your efforts at saving money, choosing a rewarding career, meeting that special someone, and even how you feel about raising a family. Subconsciously, your mind is crosschecking everything you've ever learned about money with your present circumstances and deciding how you're going to react to them. With that kind of influence on your actions, it's a good idea to do a checkup from the neck up when it comes to your relationship with money.
The best approach is to go into this with a positive attitude.
In life, there are two things you ultimately have control over:
- Your attitude
- Your activity
Your attitude determines how you're going to deal with the daily opportunities and obstacles when it comes to your money. If you find a quarter lying on the ground, do you pick it up … or step around it and continue on with what you were doing because picking it up isn't worth your time? If you find $20 in your coat pocket, do you celebrate by splurging on a larger lunch … or do you put it away for a rainy day? How you deal with daily events such as these says a lot about you and the way you view money. Are you a splurger or a saver? Do you see the financial cup as half full or half empty? Are the rich evil or just hard working, successful entrepreneurs? By keeping a positive attitude about money, you're better able to see opportunities as they present themselves and you're able to take action to put yourself in a better financial position by jumping on those opportunities when they come along.
Monitor the company you keep: No Vacancies
It's said that you're like the five people you spend the most time with. Well, each and every day your friends, family, and co-workers are attempting to 'rent space' in your head. They're expressing their views about how the world works including how they view money and they'd love it if you'd agree with them. Act like you're a hotel owner who has a sign posted outside that says Vacancies/No Vacancies. When one of them walks in wanting you to agree with them (i.e. sell you on) on a particular topic, first check to see what it is they're selling. If it's negative or defeatist talk that will hold you back, put up your No Vacancies sign and keep them out of your head! Interrupt them and let them know that you'd like to talk about something else. If you stop them often enough, they'll (hopefully) get the idea and stop bringing up those topics with you.
Now, sometimes you're stuck spending time with them (such as your co-workers) but that doesn't mean that you can't limit your time with them. If you have to sit across from or next to them, see if you can put on some headphones to block out their chatter throughout the day and listen to something more positive. If they're your family, see if you can spend more time running errands or participating in solo hobbies like jogging or reading. And if they're your friends … well … maybe you can look into getting some new ones.
Fixed vs Growth Mindset
Do you spend most of your time with people who talk about going places and accomplishing great things with their lives, or with people who have settled and don't see themselves as accomplishing much more than they already have? That's the difference between a Growth and a Fixed Mindset.
People with a Fixed Mindset believe that where they're at is where they'll stay. They are who they are. They seldom attempt to learn new skills or seek out new experiences. Their glory days are behind them and they focus on how great life used to be.
Growth Mindset people on the other hand will continually learn new skills. They look at the world with a sense of wonder and opportunity. They're always seeking to improve themselves and are always looking for the path to success.
By developing a Growth Mindset you can push yourself to greatness and accomplish a whole lot more. You can reach your goals and dreams and create a satisfying, fulfilling life you can be proud of.
Monitor Your Activity to Stay Focused: Commit to a Plan and Stick to it
Staying on track can be hard sometimes but with a few simple habits, you can reach your goals and dreams. What works for me is to have a daily journal handy which includes my overall goals as well as a list of things I want to accomplish that day. Every day I open it up and review my goals first thing in the morning. This keeps my head in the game and my brain focused on what I need to accomplish. Then I check to see what I've planned out for my day. Each day I pick three things I'm going to get done before my head hits the pillow at night and I don't go to bed until they're done. Since I love to sleep, this keeps me on task to make sure I spend my time wisely. As soon as I complete each task, I check it off my list. This gives me a sense of accomplishment and a mental push to keep going and move on to the next one.
Before I go to bed, I review my day to see what progress I've made and then select my three tasks for the next day. This saves me time and energy in the morning since I don't need to waste any time figuring out what I'm going to be doing at a time when I'm most energetic. I can just hit the ground running as soon as my feet hit the floor.
“You can change your beliefs so they empower your dreams and desires. Create a strong belief in yourself and what you want.”
- Marcia Wieder -
Before you can fix your mindset when it comes to money you first need to understand how your mindset changes over time as you deal with (or fail to deal with) the financial crises which cross your path from time to time.
There are four stages you will go through as you work toward your financial destiny.
1. Denial (nothing's broke and everything is okay)
- Thinking you only need more income instead of realizing you also need to control your spending habits
- Thinking you have a budget, but you are simply robbing Peter to pay Paul
- Thinking it's OK to live above your means “because you deserve it”
- Thinking you don't need help, when you're really only one step from financial disaster
2. Overwhelmed (everything is NOT okay, but you don't know what to do)
- You tend to have a pity party and invite people who are broker than you to it
- Thinking your situation is beyond help
- Thinking you will always live paycheck to paycheck, so what's the use
- You never get started
3. Acceptance (I have a problem. How do I fix it?)
- You realize you are not alone
- You take action
- You start to see results
- You WILL take back control of your destiny
4. Maintenance (my plan is working)
- You stick to your game plan
- You start to see your dreams become a reality
- You spread the word (create a legacy)
The amount of time it takes someone to go through each of these steps depends entirely on them. For some people, they never make it past the first or second stage. They either deny that they have a problem or they're stuck feeling overwhelmed and throw up their hands in frustration believing there's no help for them. For others, they accept that they're overwhelmed and quickly seek out mentors who can help them solve their problems. What this comes down to is whether or not they have a Fixed or a Growth Mindset which we discussed earlier. Which one are you?
“You have been criticizing yourself for years, and it hasn't worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.”
- Louise L. Hay -
Knowing what your priorities are is the keystone to having a more balanced life.
We love any tool we can take a quick look at and immediately know what it does and how it can make our life better (like our Home Run Plan). We've been using the Time Management Matrix (also known as the Eisenhower Matrix) to help our Family Members prioritize their lives for years.
Here's how it works:
There are two factors that color every decision you make.
1. Is it important or not, and
2. Is it urgent or not?
Those two factors when mixed together determine how much stress you feel in a situation and how productive you are. (see the Matrix below)
|Urgent (Crisis)||Not Urgent (Can lead to crisis)|
|Important||QUADRANT 1 ACTIVITIES:
Paying the rent/mortgage late
Paying the car note/insurance late
Paying the light/gas bill late
Getting the car fixed
|QUADRANT 2 ACTIVITIES:
Paying bills on time
|Not Important||QUADRANT 3 ACTIVITIES:
Interruptions, some calls
Paying some bills for other people
Other peoples' problems
|QUADRANT 4 ACTIVITIES:
Getting your nails and hair done, watching TV, Surfing the web, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Texting
Here are some examples of the ways you could be living in the four quadrants.:
Taking care of your car usually isn't urgent (like getting the oil changed), but if you don't maintain it regularly, pretty soon it will break down and you'll need to pay a lot for a mechanic to fix it. This is an important, but not urgent activity (QUAD 2) which becomes both urgent and important (QUAD 1) when the car breaks down.
Your kids call and ask you to babysit for them so they can go out on the town, but you were planning to work some overtime tonight. This is urgent to them but not important to you (QUAD 3). Instead of taking care of your own worries by making some extra money to pay your bills, you're dealing with other people's problems. You tell them you can't because you have to keep a roof over your head (urgent and important to you) (QUAD 2).
You're at work when one of your kids calls to say that the electric guy is at your door to turn off your lights. First, you don't want the lights to get cut off. Second, you don't want to tick off your boss by leaving work to take care of a personal problem. This is urgent and important to you (QUAD 1). You've got a tough choice to make. You should have paid that light bill on time (QUAD 2).
You look in the mirror and realize that your hair is a mess, so you head down to the beauty shop and spend the rest of the day there … and the rest of your rent money. This is not important, and not urgent (QUAD 4).
Any activity you do falls into one of these four quadrants. Ideally you should stay in Quadrant 2 as much as possible. When you do, you'll have less stress because you'll have less crisis in your life. It's when you don't take care of your Quadrant 2 issues that they turn into Quadrant 1 issues and you end up jumping from one emergency to another.
When it comes down to your money, being in Quadrant 1 (crisis) costs you more of your hard earned money through late fees, cut-off fees, repossessed vehicles, evictions, and avoidable car repairs. Staying in Quadrant 2 shows that you're a responsible individual who manages his money well and who is in control of his life.
“We need to find the courage to say 'NO' to the things and people that are not serving us if we want to rediscover ourselves and live our lives with authenticity.”
- Dr. Barbara DeAngelis -
Getting Started: The 2-Minute Rule
For me, getting started is the hardest part of any project. Sometimes I just don't feel like getting started and I procrastinate and find all kinds of other things to do instead of the things I need to get done.
But once I get my wheels moving, I can develop the momentum to keep going. So how do I get the motivation to do that? I use the 2-Minute Rule.
Step 1: Start a task for at least two minutes
Step 2: Continue after that if you want to
Step 3: Repeat daily
It's just that easy. I've actually used this method to finish drafts of books I've written, cleaned out my basement, build steps for my back porch, and even to write this article. What it comes down to is adding a little bit each day to the previous day's work to complete what's important to you.
Take action! Remember, it's harder to feel your way into acting than to act your way into feeling.
“Something at rest tends to stay at rest. Something in motion tends to stay in motion.”
- Sir Isaac Newton -
Putting it all Together
Getting your head together is critical if you're going to accomplish anything great whether it's creating a rewarding career for yourself, raising great kids, or developing good money habits. What it comes down to is knowing what to do, what not to do, and going out and getting the job done. By using these simple, easy to use tools, you can create the life you've always dreamed of and make a difference in your world. Go get it done!
Thanks for reading!